Couture: No More? Or Changing the Score?

- - Fashion Shows

In a time when fashion is so fast, it is hard (as a designer) to imagine having the luxury of working on a collection, piece by piece, detail by painstaking detail – knowing that my one of a kind creations will most likely adorn elite clientele from China, Dubai or the like. This season, more so than others, the conversation questioning the modernity of Couture has been on the tip of every fashion journalist’s tongue as the line between Ready-to-Wear collections and Haute Couture collections blurs. The Couture client has changed. Her lifestyle has changed. Her income and desire for exclusivity has remained the same. In an effort to give their Couture clients options for every event in their jet setting lives, we see a shift in the Couture designers’ FW 2014 collections.

In Nicole Phelps review of Raf Simons latest Couture collection for Christian Dior, she states, the “thing that keeps Simons out ahead is his assertion that Couture need not be for special occasions. True luxury is spending five or six figures and wearing something not once or twice, but incorporating it into your daily wardrobe.”  From gowns to jumpsuits, Simons seemed to cover dressing for every occasion in his clients’ lives in his 62-look collection.

Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld to design an exquisite skirt and short combination perfect for the  NYC Couture client who wants to ride a Citibike through Central Park.  And it seems that Lagerfeld has thought of all stages in the lives of his clients as he sent a 7-month pregnant Ashleigh Good down his Couture runway in a stunningly shaped bridal gown.  Tim Blanks asserted of the most recent Chanel Couture collection, “That twistedness was the key to the collection. The word couture implies cutting and seaming. There was none of that here. Everything was molded rather than seamed.”  And even Lagerfeld himself mentioned (albeit with tongue in cheek), “It’s Haute Couture without the Couture.”

Despite trends and discussions surrounding Couture, I cannot help but be reminded of the art and craft of fashion design as I flip through each Couture show (and especially the detailed photographs).  The hand-stitching, the beading and the intricate embroidery make me long for a slower time in fashion.  In a recent article for the Business of Fashion, Angelo Flaccavento asserts that “couture should be treated as a creative laboratory for beauty.”  I agree, and believe that in today’s changing society, that beauty can be expressed for the purpose of play OR a once in a lifetime occasion in the Couture atelier.  We encourage you to turn your home into a creative laboratory using the University of Fashion’s video library to guide your Couture vision.  Slow fashion, anyone?

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.